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Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Overview

There's a gap between what people say is important in education and learning today...and between what is formally acknowledged as important. For example, informal learning is generally not recognized by corporations and education institutions, even though it comprises as much as 80% of what we learn in order to do our work. Our work environments no longer allow for separation of learning and work (i.e. go to college for 4 years, get a job). Now, learning is a vital skill to staying competent in our careers (I believe it's called "seamless" or "embedded" learning - where we learn what we need to do while we are in the circumstance in which we need to do it).

The lines between work and learning are blurred to the point where they are no longer separate activities, but activities with vital connections that feed into and direct each other. The problem, as stated, is the gap between what we know is happening in work environments and what is happening in education. Fortunately, a promising development appears to be addressing this concern - Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition.

PLAR has been defined as: "the process of identifying, assessing and recognizing skills, knowledge, or competencies that have been acquired through work experience, unrecognized training, independent study, volunteer activities, and hobbies. PLA may be applied toward academic credit, toward requirement of a training program, or for occupational certification." The concept just makes sense...and I'm really surprised that elearning companies have not taken a greater interest in this. It's a perfect fit with the concerns of this market - recognizing prior learning.

In many ways, PLAR and elearning have much to offer each other. PLAR provides a means of evaluating informal learning...and well designed elearning provides a way to fill gaps revealed (for example - the gap between informal learning and outcomes of a course/program) through PLAR. Elearning and PLAR need each other...

In the PLAR model, learners follow a structured process of "proving" their learning based on clearly defined program wide/curriculum wide learning outcomes. A well designed online course, for example, would be fairly easy to open up to the PLAR process...while a poorly designed course would be frustrating for both learner and evaluator.


Resources

PLAR Overview
FAQ on PLAR process

The PLAR Process
Explains the process for starting with PLAR from a learner's perspective.

PLAR Value Statements
"The intent of the project was to capture the convictions and expectations of the various "players" in the development of PLAR"

PLAR Foundation Training Course
Training series...available online.

PLAR Abroad
Links to PLAR in different countries.

Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment
Like it says...

Web-based Resources for PLAR
"The web-based resources on these pages represent one way in which the university is attempting to provide faculty advisors and assessors with opportunities to become familiar with the process."

Developing Benchmarks for PLAR
"The aim of the study was to develop and promote national benchmarks for those engaged in PLAR across Canada, in all sectors and communities."

   

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